If only shopping was mission based and you could get rewarded for accomplishing set goals, much like earning achievements on Xbox games. Strangely enough, this is exactly the type of thing Shopkick brings to your mobile device, turning an average trip to the store for shampoo and crackers into a point generating power run that might have you out all night hopping from store to store in an effort to max out your Kicks and level up!
I have to admit, I’ve always been a bit hesitant to actively use any apps that let people automatically know where I am and what I’m doing at all times. I’ve never actively used Foursquare and I once had my Facebook account set so that friends couldn’t check me into places (that might still be in place, but they can still tag me, which is really no different). If I was going to make use of such an app, it would almost have to treat such activities like a game. So when I got a text from a friend of mine to sign up for Shopkick, I was intrigued but wary. Was this going to be another coupon generator for things I didn’t want at stores I didn’t shop at or a pointless point collector that never really amounted to anything since the chances to earn points were few and far between? But I gave it a shot and realized that this two year old company called Shopkick actually has me hooked with their fun little app.
Getting My Kicks
In the week since I’ve downloaded the app, I’ve earned 1831 points (as of the moment I write this). That sounds like a lot, but depending on what you want, it really isn’t. I can, so far, exchange most of those points for a $2 or $4 gift certificate to Best Buy or Target. But I’m not letting the initial weak return dissuade me. I have a goal in mind, which I’ll get to later. The more intriguing thing about point collecting is how simple they make it to snag those precious “Kicks” (aka points). By simply walking into a listed store like Macy’s, Target, Best Buy, Old Navy, Toys R Us, and dozens more (depending on their proximity to you), you will get a sizable chunk of points/kicks. And those totals vary by day and location. I have no less than 8 Target stores around me in a 10 mile radius from my home. By stepping through the doors and standing still in the entrance for a moment, I’ll pick up 60 Kicks. But when I was driving to Las Vegas last week, I discovered a Target in the middle of nowhere that would snag me double those points, possibly because I was outside my normal area or because of its remote location. I don’t know. But I stopped in anyway to get the points.
But the point-snagging didn’t stop there. This is where Shopkick turns shopping into a scavenger hunt. Once inside, a number of their merchandise partners offer points for scanning the barcodes on their packages, using the Redlaser scanner built into the Shopkick app. Scan enough items from a certain group (hair products, food items, etc) and you’ll garner bonus points. One of the items I was tasked to scan was a package of Oreo Double Chocolate Fudge Cremes for 300 Kicks! Right now, as I look at the Shopkick app, scanning that exact item would get me only 10 Kicks, so it comes down to timing and location to get the best shot at the most points. To be clear, you don’t have to buy these items in order to get points; You just have to scan them. Occasionally a 3 question survey pops up after the scan, but it’s quick and unobtrusive. The only frustrating thing about such searches is that sometimes the items don’t exist on that store’s shelves. I have yet to find Blue Bunny ice cream at Target (or any store) I’ve visited. But if you do want to earn points from actually buying things, a few retail merchants do offer that option. Link your debit or credit card to Shopkick and each purchase will rack up Kicks to your account (after the basic return period has ended – nobody wants you gaming the system). But, again, that’s completely optional and isn’t currently something I’m doing, so I can’t speak to the quality of that option.
Even when you’re not at a store, you can earn points by simply clicking on one of the “Surprise Kicks” that become available every few hours. Pop the bubble and you either find 1 instant Kick or one of any number of sponsored items that you collect in groups of 3 to earn 5 bonus points. But those are small potatoes. The big points come when you, of course, refer your friends to download and use the app.
The Catch (?)
So what’s the catch? Sure, this type of tool helps them keep track of your spending habits and sends information back to the merchants and product manufacturers on what you look for, when you shop, how often you shop, and why you shop. Of course, it’s a solid way for Shopkick to calculate clear numbers on how many people viewed a certain company’s product, such as a camera or a box of cookies. It’s important information that helps the companies market their products better. Yes, if you’re paranoid about corporate suits finding out how much ice cream you buy and how often, this might not be for you. But despite my own heightened levels of personal paranoia, I’m finding Shopkick fun to carry around mainly because I like collecting, even if it’s just virtual points.
MY BIG POINTS CHALLENGE
So what’s the point of it all? What’s really in it for me? Well, I’ve set a goal for myself. There are a number of different Rewards you can earn through Shopkick, most of which are gift cards for merchandise, food, gas, movies, or coffee. There are also pricier items like kitchenware, handbags, makeup, and even a Vespa (they clearly have this marketed mainly toward women as they know women traditionally shop more, using coupons and specialized promotions more than men). But I’m a bit more ambitious. I’m going for the biggest prize they got: An Around the World Trip on Princess Cruise lines. All I have to do is collect 6,250,000 Kicks. I’ve collected about 2000 points in a week. If I keep that pace up, I only have 3125 weeks to go (that’s 60 years)! Of course, for every 3 people I get to sign up, I get 2000 points in a shot. Hmmmm…
So I’m offering this opportunity to you: Let’s team up. Help me get a free cruise out of Shopkick and Princess Cruise lines. I’m sure they don’t expect anyone to ever make it to that point level. I want to prove them wrong. Just click on this link to sign up and download the app to your iPhone or Android mobile device. This URL is unique to me and is the only way I’ll accumulate the points. Share it with everyone you know and get them to sign up. To learn more, you can also visit Shopkick.com for more information. It lets you set up through Facebook and is quick and easy to use. Can we do it? If anything comes of it, I’ll be giving updates on major milestones on GeekExchange’s Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ feeds, so make sure you follow along there.
Together (you, me, and about 9300 other people), we can all put me on a ’round the world cruise for free. Because we (I) deserve it. And because you know it’s the right thing to do. For our future. Think of the children. And stuff.